Is #SabKaInternet A Deliberate Attempt By COAI To Confuse People?


All warfare is based on deception.
– Sun Tzu (The Art of War)

COAI or Cellular Operators Association of India has unleashed an ambiguous campaign, which seems targeted to confuse general public, and garner mass support by disguising information. Almost every GSM user we knew have received this message as SMS and on WhatsApp, Hike, Line and other messengers:

WhatsApp COAI SMS Message

The above message was received by an Idea customer, The same message was received by Airtel customers as well.

Airtel message

source: Phani Raj K

Looks like once you have given a missed call on the given number you get a message showing 4 different points. This is what Vodafone has sent to one of their users.

VOdafone COAI messageSource: Purvi

Using hashtag #SabkaInternet, they quote different ‘revolutionary’ statements, and ask the receiver to give a missed-call to a particular toll free number, to showcase ‘support’. I also received the message, and I was not able to understand what it actually meant.

As Vishal Gondal pointed out, “Confusing message m COAI by dialing I am supporting #netnutrality or #airtelzero what is #sabkainternet ?”

Questions were being raised on Twitter, regarding it’s intent, and objectives.

Similarly, not so geek mobile users can easily get confused with this message, and may give a miss call to ‘test it out’. Considering the reach of COAI, they have reached each and every active GSM user in India within the last 48 hours, and therefore even if just 1% of them give a missed call, COAI would have 7-9 million support calls.. 

The Timing

The next few days are immensely important for the whole campaign of net neutrality, as Telecom Ministry will give their report on May 9th, and the deadline for TRAI’s way of conducting ‘public debate’ is ending on April 24th.

The delicate timing, and the pretty young age of their website: (only 7 days!) gives us a strong impression, that not everything is natural with this campaign.

On their website, they have published several blogs, which are worded extremely cautiously and always throws away the question, rather than answering it.

For example: “Net Neutrality: America versus India” (thereby indicating that American market is different than India) ; “Net Neutrality – Government should let market decide” (it can’t be better than this..) and more.

COAI or Cellular Operators Association of India is an association of GSM mobile service providers in the country. It was formed in 2005, and some of the ‘core members’ include: Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Videocon Telecommunications, Vodafone (Earlier Hutch), Uninor, Idea Cellular & Reliance Jio Infocomm.

On the issue of net neutrality, they have been pretty consistent, and diplomatic, as evident by some of the earlier statements issued by COAI: “Strong pitch for Net Neutrality” ; “Call for comprehensive debate on the issue”; “Reaffirmation of their support for Net Neutrality” and more.

Considering that Airtel and Reliance, both are going against the basic principles of Internet, and trying every trick possible to implement their discriminatory Internet plans, we assumed that there must be some intense debate going on inside COAI at this time.

After all, a market is heavily influenced by competition, and if Airtel and Reliance withdraw from Zero and respectively, then other operators such as Idea and Vodafone would not even think of anti-net neutrality plans.

But we were wrong. It seems COAI has decided to go against Net Neutrality, and if other telecom players initiate their own version of Zero, then it would be a bad situation for Internet in India.

During the World War, such ambiguous tactics of communication campaigns were termed as propaganda: I am afraid COAI is still not acknowledging that Net Neutrality is the only future for Internet.

What is your take?

  1. raj says

    The main culprit seems here AirTel with its zero plan

  2. Lalit Upadheyay says

    Yesterady I also got this sms and I also felt that that missed call stats can be tweaked for some different purpose in future. So I didn’t give a missed call. Telecom companies are trying to figure out means to multiply their revenue by following different practices and throwing different campaigns. Also this is an attempt to lobby against small entrepreneur and an infringement of a users rights to access whatever sites he likes using his paid internet service. Whatever these companies claim as free internet is absolutely not free and costs you in the form of data download for surfing the free content.

    They are just trying to tame the beast by grabbing its tail. The beast nowhere belongs to these telecom companies and they should have no right to lucratively earn out of it. They have right to claim the cost of hay which they are feeding but not the cost of cake/pizza/pasta and delicious dishes instead.

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